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Something I've Been Curious About Libertarians


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Libertarianism is such a broad philosophy it's hard to answer your question I think.  I'm not a pure libertarian, and have probably become less so over the last few years, so even my answers would be sinful in some Libertarian circles.  

 

At the end of the day, I suppose libertarians want to limit the power of the state, and maximize personal liberty.  How that is accomplished varies.

 

For instance, some libertarians favor universal basic income.  How does achieve reducing the power of the state while maximizing liberty?  It could be argued it does this because the income would be universal - whether you are in prison for murder, you are a minimum wage worker at McDonalds, or you are a millionaire, you get UBI, no questions asked.  The government can't threaten to take it away or force you to do something to get it, and once you get it, you are free to use it how you please.  Plus UBI would be more efficient than our current welfare and food stamp program. 

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2 hours ago, mclumber1 said:

Libertarianism is such a broad philosophy it's hard to answer your question I think.  I'm not a pure libertarian, and have probably become less so over the last few years, so even my answers would be sinful in some Libertarian circles.  

 

At the end of the day, I suppose libertarians want to limit the power of the state, and maximize personal liberty.  How that is accomplished varies.

 

For instance, some libertarians favor universal basic income.  How does achieve reducing the power of the state while maximizing liberty?  It could be argued it does this because the income would be universal - whether you are in prison for murder, you are a minimum wage worker at McDonalds, or you are a millionaire, you get UBI, no questions asked.  The government can't threaten to take it away or force you to do something to get it, and once you get it, you are free to use it how you please.  Plus UBI would be more efficient than our current welfare and food stamp program. 

 

That would be fine but that's not the whole picture, is it? There's "The State", "The Individual" and "The Public" which is made up of individuals but is separate from The State. That's where the concept of "maximizing" personal liberty falls apart for me because if you want to be part of a society... your personal liberties will be compromised somewhat, right? Like you may think you're entitled to to walk around stark naked but if the rest of the individuals in your society don't want to see that shit, who's right? Libertarianism always struck me as a uniquely adolescent political viewpoint. 

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5 hours ago, skillzdadirecta said:

 

That would be fine but that's not the whole picture, is it? There's "The State", "The Individual" and "The Public" which is made up of individuals but is separate from The State. That's where the concept of "maximizing" personal liberty falls apart for me because if you want to be part of a society... your personal liberties will be compromised somewhat, right? Like you may think you're entitled to to walk around stark naked but if the rest of the individuals in your society don't want to see that shit, who's right? Libertarianism always struck me as a uniquely adolescent political viewpoint. 

There’s a broad division between libertarian socialists and capitalist libertarians, first of all—most of the libertarians in the US are of the capitalist sort.
 

The purist libertarian would probably argue that if the naked person is not harming you or your private property, you don’t really have any way (or at least shouldn’t have any way) to compel them to put some clothes on.  However, once they’re on your property, you have the right to throw them out if they don’t follow your rules; moreover, a group of landowners could form a voluntary association where they all agree not to let anyone on their land who isn’t wearing clothes, and keep out the naked guy that way.

 

The divisions amongst libertarians start to come out once the naked dude ignores the association’s rules and starts trespassing through no-naked-people-allowed territory.  Some believe at this point you need, at the very least, a very minimal state to adjudicate disputes; others assert you could have a private court system, which would be supported by everyone’s desire to avoid feud justice, the only other seeming alternative—I.e., telling the naked guy to put some clothes on or get off your property and then shooting him if he doesn’t cooperate.

 

I’m generally sympathetic to many libertarian critiques of the problems government bureaucracy, the criminalization of certain forms of economic exchange, and ill-constructed laws create...but at the end of the day, I also think a truly just libertarian society could not exist under capitalism and the gravitational forces of basic scarcity—it would ultimately just collapse into feudalism.  And if you look at some of the progenitors of modern (capitalist) libertarianism, you’ll see that that’s exactly what they were agitating for—Ludwig von Mises, The Godfather of American (capitalist) libertarianism, was fundamentally concerned with a return to the feudal version of Habsburg Austria he idealized in his youth, whose private monarchies were being disrupted by the rise of national governments alongside the growth of the laboring classes and the bourgeoisie.  (though to be fair, F.A. Hayek, the other Godfather often cited by American libertarians, was more moderate, and believed in a state that provided basic services and a universal basic income)

 

 I could see a post-scarcity, post-capitalist society evolving along libertarian lines—but parts of it would probably look more like what the libertarian socialists describe than Mises and co.

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I've increasingly felt like libertarianism is more like a guiding ideal than something most of them actually want to accomplish. It kind of reminds me of Christianity. The ideal you talk about is living like Christ, but virtually no one really wants to give everything away and try to live without sin. In the end they just use it as a lens to view problems through, and you do so selectively, to whatever extent it works for you. 

 

The libertarians I'm familiar with basically do the same. There's this theoretical ideal of a minimal state, if any, but in the end you're really just being picky about what you want government to do and what you don't.

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2 minutes ago, TwinIon said:

I've increasingly felt like libertarianism is more like a guiding ideal than something most of them actually want to accomplish. It kind of reminds me of Christianity. The ideal you talk about is living like Christ, but virtually no one really wants to give everything away and try to live without sin. In the end they just use it as a lens to view problems through, and you do so selectively, to whatever extent it works for you. 

 

The libertarians I'm familiar with basically do the same. There's this theoretical ideal of a minimal state, if any, but in the end you're really just being picky about what you want government to do and what you don't.

 

I tend to agree.

 

For instance,  I could complain about the thumb of government during the pandemic, but I won't, because I can clearly see that the policies enacted (by most) governors have had positive benefits in flattening the curve.  

 

 

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I think a lot of the problem, too, is that people compared one flawed system against another perfect one. I've seen many people argue that the current system of government is flawed, so we should replace it with perfect libertarianism. And I agree that if it was perfectly-executed (and everyone acted in good faith) then it would work! But by that same argument, perfect socialist government would also be better! The issue is that we will never see a perfect version of any style of governance because people overall are pretty shitty, and all systems can be taken advantage of.

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6 minutes ago, Jose said:

I checked out from taking libertarians seriously when I learned there was a pro-life libertarian argument. 

 

 

Do you understand the pro-life argument?


I'm not asking if you agree with it their argument.  I'm asking if you understand their position.  It's possible to understand them yet disagree.  To them, abortion is murder, which violates the non-aggression principle (NAP) - which is like the central pillar of libertarianism.  

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1 hour ago, Jose said:

I checked out from taking libertarians seriously when I learned there was a pro-life libertarian argument. 

 

Yes, but it turns like every other pro-life/pro-choice argument on the definition of when 'life' begins.  (and thus what qualifies as 'terminating a life')  It's not particularly strange or self-contradictory, IMO.

 

That's really all any argument about abortion vs 'choice' boils down to.  No one, except for total nihilists, holds an 'anti-life'/'pro-murder' philosophy.  Almost everyone agrees murder is wrong.  I mean...that's typically what it's defined as, 'wrongful killing'.   It's whether life begins at conception,  and thus whether terminating a pregnancy can be characterized as murder, that conservatives/liberals/libertarians/communists/everyone-but-the-nihilists disagree on.

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1 hour ago, Signifyin(g)Monkey said:

Yes, but it turns like every other pro-life/pro-choice argument on the definition of when 'life' begins.  (and thus what qualifies as 'terminating a life')  It's not particularly strange or self-contradictory, IMO.

 

That's really all any argument about abortion vs 'choice' boils down to.  No one, except for total nihilists, holds an 'anti-life'/'pro-murder' philosophy.  Almost everyone agrees murder is wrong.  I mean...that's typically what it's defined as, 'wrongful killing'.   It's whether life begins at conception,  and thus whether terminating a pregnancy can be characterized as murder, that conservatives/liberals/libertarians/communists/everyone-but-the-nihilists disagree on.

I wish to stridently push back against this gross mis-characterization of nihilism!

 

Nihilism claims that life has no objective meaning (which it most certainly does not!).  This is a far cry from being "anti-life".

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11 minutes ago, Emperor Diocletian II said:

I wish to stridently push back against this gross mis-characterization of nihilism!

 

Nihilism claims that life has no objective meaning (which it most certainly does not!).  This is a far cry from being "anti-life".

But they are essentially okay with murder in the sense that to a nihilist murder ('wrongful' killing) has no meaning, by dint of life's meaninglessness.

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50 minutes ago, Signifyin(g)Monkey said:

But they are essentially okay with murder in the sense that to a nihilist murder ('wrongful' killing) has no meaning, by dint of life's meaninglessness.

 

I think most nihilists (in real life) would only argue that in the grand scheme of things life has no meaning, but it still has meaning in the present for the people who are living (but that meaning disappears when they die, and the people who knew them die).

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I never can get a satisfactory argument from my libertarian friend on why he's for banning abortion. He wants to protect innocent life, but adamantly for  unlimited gun access that takes innocent lives every day. In that case, he seems to put the liberty of people above all, don't infringe on their rights by taking away guns, even if people are dying. I guess that same liberty for gun owners doesn't extend to me having control over my own body.

 

I will never buy the "pro-life" arguments.

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11 minutes ago, CastlevaniaNut18 said:

I never can get a satisfactory argument from my libertarian friend on why he's for banning abortion. He wants to protect innocent life, but adamantly for  unlimited gun access that takes innocent lives every day. In that case, he seems to put the liberty of people above all, don't infringe on their rights by taking away guns, even if people are dying. I guess that same liberty for gun owners doesn't extend to me having control over my own body.

 

I will never buy the "pro-life" arguments.

 

When you murder someone with a gun, you are violating the non aggression principle, because you are taking their life away without their permission.  You can (and should) be punished by the state/society for your actions.  

 

A pro-life libertarian would likely make the same argument in regards to abortion.  Since you don't have the permission of the fetus to terminate it's life, you are violating the NAP, and can be punished by the state/society for your actions. 

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Pro life arguments often boil down to giving the human fetus/embryo enough moral significance that destroying it is wrong and should be illegal thereby trumping a woman's own freedom to do as they please with their body. If one doesn't think the embryo has moral significance at all, or thinks it's more like a worm or lesser life form, then they're likely pro choice. The arguments also often go into the moral status of a 'potential person'. These are all fairly abstract philosophical arguments. 

 

Libertarians at least get some things right, and they were ahead of the curve on certain issues such as gay marriage, marijuana legalization, and criminal justice reform. But they get a lot wrong too, such as their belief in the non-existence of market failures. 

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Just now, mclumber1 said:

 

When you murder someone with a gun, you are violating the non aggression principle, because you are taking their life away without their permission.  You can (and should) be punished by the state/society for your actions.  

 

A pro-life libertarian would likely make the same argument in regards to abortion.  Since you don't have the permission of the fetus to terminate it's life, you are violating the NAP, and can be punished by the state/society for your actions. 

And that's where I can't help but say bullshit. A fetus has zero sense of self awareness. It can't grant permission, it's not even aware of anything going on. I'm always going to put the rights of the sentient woman over a fetus that has no sense of being and can't even survive without acting as a parasite on the woman's body.

 

So that's a nonstarter for me.

 

 

Then there's the amazing argument of "you can't ban guns, people will always be able to get guns illegally." But banning abortion works? You literally put the lives of women in danger by banning abortion, because a desperate woman will do anything to obtain one. We saw that before Roe and no telling how many women died from attempting it themselves or seeking out unsafe, backroom practitioners/butchers.

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1 minute ago, CastlevaniaNut18 said:

And that's where I can't help but say bullshit. A fetus has zero sense of self awareness. It can't grant permission, it's not even aware of anything going on. I'm always going to put the rights of the sentient woman over a fetus that has no sense of being and can't even survive without acting as a parasite on the woman's body.

 

So that's a nonstarter for me.

 

 

Then there's the amazing argument of "you can't ban guns, people will always be able to get guns illegally." But banning abortion works? You literally put the lives of women in danger by banning abortion, because a desperate woman will do anything to obtain one. We saw that before Roe and no telling how many women died from attempting it themselves or seeking out unsafe, backroom practitioners/butchers.

 

A mentally retarded person also doesn't have self awareness.  Nor does a person in a coma.  Nor does a toddler.  I'm not sure you are making a strong argument in favor of legalized abortion.

 

Here is my argument:  Making abortion illegal will have a higher cost on society.  Black market and back alley abortions will not only be unsafe for the mother, but it will create a new class of criminals that we simply don't need.  I absolutely think abortion is a horrible and potentially immoral thing, and I would urge women to either keep the baby or have it adopted when it is born.  I just don't think it should be illegal. 

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1 minute ago, mclumber1 said:

 

A mentally retarded person also doesn't have self awareness.  Nor does a person in a coma.  Nor does a toddler.  I'm not sure you are making a strong argument in favor of legalized abortion.

 

Here is my argument:  Making abortion illegal will have a higher cost on society.  Black market and back alley abortions will not only be unsafe for the mother, but it will create a new class of criminals that we simply don't need.  I absolutely think abortion is a horrible and potentially immoral thing, and I would urge women to either keep the baby or have it adopted when it is born.  I just don't think it should be illegal. 

Developmentally delayed(don’t use the R-word) people are self aware. They can feel pain. Same goes for toddlers. 
 

It gets a little murky with people in persistent vegetative states, but I also took the side of Terri Schaivo’s husband in that case. 
 

again, I will always put the rights of a sentient human adult over a fetus that isn’t self aware, can’t feel pain, and can’t survive outside its host. 

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4 minutes ago, CastlevaniaNut18 said:

Developmentally delayed(don’t use the R-word) people are self aware. They can feel pain. Same goes for toddlers. 
 

It gets a little murky with people in persistent vegetative states, but I also took the side of Terri Schaivo’s husband in that case. 
 

again, I will always put the rights of a sentient human adult over a fetus that isn’t self aware, can’t feel pain, and can’t survive outside its host. 

 

Forgive me, but I wasn't trying to use the r word in a derogatory form.  That wasn't my intention.  

 

As far as pain goes, I agree that a clump of cells cannot feel pain.  But there is a point in the development of a fetus where it can feel pain - so once again I don't think this is a great argument either.  

 

Like I said, I think the best argument for legal abortion is the utilitarian aspect that I mentioned upthread. 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, mclumber1 said:

 

Forgive me, but I wasn't trying to use the r word in a derogatory form.  That wasn't my intention.  

 

As far as pain goes, I agree that a clump of cells cannot feel pain.  But there is a point in the development of a fetus where it can feel pain - so once again I don't think this is a great argument either.  

 

Like I said, I think the best argument for legal abortion is the utilitarian aspect that I mentioned upthread. 

 

 

And I agree with your argument. I made the same argument, too. Which is why I understand the moral objection that some people have to it. But banning it doesn’t make sense, because you’re causing so much harm to countless people by doing so. It’s fine to be personally against it. Don’t have an abortion. 
 

fetal pain is a disputed area, but I think it’s safe to say at the stage where the overwhelming number of abortions are performed, the fetus can’t feel pain. I’ve only ever read dubious studies to suggest that. 

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I don't think abortions should be restricted but if they had to be, viability outside of the womb seems like a reasonable compromise. And by the end of the second trimester is when pretty much all pregnancies other than "the kid is going to have massive problems" or "it's going to kill the mother" situations are terminated by. Who's dealing with being pregnant for 8 months and then getting an abortion for the lulz?

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2 minutes ago, Jason said:

I don't think abortions should be restricted but if they had to be, viability outside of the womb seems like a reasonable compromise. And by the end of the second trimester is when pretty much all pregnancies other than "the kid is going to have massive problems" or "it's going to kill the mother" situations are terminated by. Who's dealing with being pregnant for 8 months and then getting an abortion for the lulz?

That’s pretty much my stance. 
 

No woman is waiting until 35 weeks and changing her mind. Late term abortions are almost always in cases where there’s a catastrophic condition. 

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